Torelus is a new genus combining Torenia and Mimulus . . . with spectucular results!

Torelus is a new genus combining Torenia and Mimulus . . . with spectucular results!

You might well ask! Torelus is an entirely new genus, which technically makes it “X Torelus” (like X Heucherella). It’s a cross of Torenia and Mimulus, with large, bold, non-sticky flowers on heat-tolerant plants just made for baskets and windowboxes in the shade. If you’re looking to an alternative to Begonia, Caladium, and Hypoestes for the shade, welcome brassy Torelus into your landscape!

Torenia, also known as Wishbone or Clown Flower, is a very heavy-blooming annual with upturned blooms, usually bicolored. Butterflies love it, and deer keep their distance, so it is easy to grow. It is not, however, particularly heat-tolerant, and this is where Mimulus (Monkey Flower) steps in to help.

Bold, wildly patterned Mimulus blooms are the butterflies' favorites!

Bold, wildly patterned Mimulus blooms are the butterflies’ favorites!

Mimulus is a native North American wildflower with charming spotted blooms that often resemble faces (hence the Monkey Flower name). Happy in sun to partial shade, this plant is quite heat-tolerant, but its flowers tend to be sticky. Butterflies love this; humans, not so much. So Mimulus benefits from its friend Torenia, too.

Torelus has non-sticky blooms on heat-resistant plants!

Torelus has non-sticky blooms on heat-resistant plants!

Torelus, therefore, combines the smooth-textured, nonsticky blooms of Torenia with the heat tolerance of Mimulus, and the result is very bold, bright, often orchid-spotted blooms in yellow, orangey red, and magenta purple. Happy in full sun in northern and short-summer climates, partial to full shade farther south and west, these plants reach 1 to 2 feet high and wide, filling containers beautifully and flowering very dependably all summer.

Butterflies and bees visit Torelus frequently, while deer prefer to nibble on other plants. This annual makes a terrific companion to everything from Begonia and Caladium to Calla, Hypoestes, shade-tolerant varieties of Coleus, ferns, and more! Mounded, very densely branched, and free-flowering, they are the ideal bright spot in the darker areas of the garden, patio, and deck. Discover their magic this season!

Magnificent Purple Torelus has the orchid spotting of Mimulus, the neon-bright colors of both parents, and a look all its own!

Magnificent Purple Torelus has the orchid spotting of Mimulus, the neon-bright colors of both parents, and a look all its own!

About Sappho Charney

Sappho Charney is a garden writer living in Lubbock, Texas.

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